Howto Jump a Car: Jump Starting Simplified

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Courtesy of ElectroFern Team

Table of Contents

1. Jump starting: The Basics

1.1. Jump starting safety tips

1.2. How to jump start dead battery with jumper cables

1.3. How to jump start car battery with jump starter booster pack

2. Jump Starting Frequently Asked Questions

2.1. Why do we connect negative to ground?

2.2. Can a car battery be too dead to jump start?

2.3. How to jump start a dead battery without another car?

2.4. Can you jump start a car with just a battery?

2.5. Does jump starting a car drain your battery?

2.6. Can jump starting a car damage your car?

2.7. Does jump starting a car damage my battery?

2.8. Can jump starting a car damage your computer?

2.9. Will I damage my car if I give someone a jump start?

2.10. What happens if you jump start a frozen battery?

2.11. Can you jump start a bad alternator?

3. Jumper Cables: The Know-How

3.1. Jumper cable basics

3.2. Can jumper cables damage your car?

3.3. Can jumper cables damage your battery?

3.4. Why are my jumper cables sparking?

3.5. Why are my jumper cables heating up?

3.6. Why are my jumper cables melting?

4. Jump Starter Booster Packs: The Bold

4.1 What are they and how do they work?

4.2. Will a booster pack charge a dead battery?

4.3. How long can the jump starter hold a charge?

4.4. Is a portable jump starter worth it?

1.1. Jump starting safety tips

  • When jump starting, make sure you are not smoking.
  • Make sure the vehicle is in park.
  • Do not let the cables dangle from the car.
  • Do not use poor- and low-quality cables. Use high-quality ones.
  • Refer to your car manual for instructions.
  • Keep a wire brush handy for proper cable-to-terminal connection in case cleaning battery terminals is appropriate.

1.2. How to jumpstart dead battery with jumper cables

Here, learn howto jump a car. Learning how to jump a car is easier than you think. With a little knowledge you too can learn how to jump start car batteries.

First, disclaimers. Make sure to read your manual about jump starting. Though this step is optional, I highly recommend you do this if you have never done it before. Precise vehicle manufacturers prefer you do not jump start.

After reading the manual and carefully considering its information you are ready to jump start car battery.

  1. Positive to positive. Connect both positive (red) leads to positive terminal (+) of both batteries. This is the easy step.
  2. This is the harder two steps. Connect the negative lead closest to good battery to the good battery’s negative terminal (-).
  3. Now, you are going to pick a place on the bad battery’s car. Find a reliable source of ground. Choose a place as far away from the battery as possible. Attach the last negative lead here. This will become an extension of the battery’s (-) terminal.
  4. Start the bad battery’s car. If needed, you may hit the gas (in park) of the good battery’s car up to 2000, 3000, or 4000 RPM if necessary. If not, just wait a minute or two after attaching jumper cables. Then, turn on the bad battery’s car. Crank and it should turn on.

Disconnect jumper cables in this order:

  1. Bad battery’s negative.
  2. Good battery’s negative.
  3. In any order, disconnect both positives.

1.3. How to jump start car battery with jump starter booster pack

Learn to jump start car battery with the booster pack. Here I will give instructions for the NOCO Boost Pro GB150 3000 Amp 12-Volt battery booster pack. How the jump starter booster pack works is saved for a later section.

First, ensure you charge the booster pack fully. You should see the display show 12.8 volts. Older booster packs over a year of age tend to drop to 12.5 volts. It will still work if you are above 12 volts. Second, make sure both positive and negative alligator clips are clean. Ensure there is no rust or debris. After checking both tips, you are ready to jump start using the battery pack.

  1. Connect positive on booster pack to battery’s positive terminal (+).
  2. Connect negative on booster pack to battery’s negative terminal (-).
  3. Turn on booster pack and interface with the device. Ensure it is on and ready to boost.

Get into the driver’s seat. Crank the car. Your car will turn on. It is that easy

Learn jump starting the right way.

Learning how to jump a car is easier than you think. With a little knowledge you too can learn how to jump start car batteries.

First, disclaimers. Make sure to read your manual about jump starting. Though this step is optional, I highly recommend you do this if you have never done it before. Precise vehicle manufacturers prefer you do not jump start.

After reading the manual and carefully considering its information you are ready to jump start car battery.

  1. Positive to positive. Connect both positive (red) leads to positive terminal (+) of both batteries. This is the easy step.
  2. This is the harder two steps. Connect the negative lead closest to good battery to the good battery’s negative terminal (-).
  3. Now, you are going to pick a place on the bad battery’s car. Find a reliable source of ground. Choose a place as far away from the battery as possible. Attach the last negative lead here. This will become an extension of the battery’s (-) terminal.
  4. Start the bad battery’s car. If needed, you may hit the gas (in park) of the good battery’s car up to 2000, 3000, or 4000 RPM if necessary. If not, just wait a minute or two after attaching jumper cables. Then, turn on the bad battery’s car. Crank and it should turn on.

Disconnect jumper cables in this order:

  1. Bad battery’s negative.
  2. Good battery’s negative.
  3. In any order, disconnect both positives.

And there you have it. You have successfully jump started a vehicle. You now will not have any trouble in jump starting other vehicles as well.

Jump Starting Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most asked questions on the internet.

2.1. Why do we connect negative to ground?

Consider ground the car’s metal body because it is huge relative to the positive terminal.

Voltage is potential difference. Voltage recedes while it travels through a metal medium. It results that large metal bodies are great for ensuring voltage is as zero as possible. If we considered a small body ground, it would not work quite well.

So, why connect negative to ground if the battery’s negative pin (-) shorts to ground? There is nothing wrong with that thinking in mind. In fact, blindly following this “negative to ground” advice everyone quite a disservice in the intellectual department.

We connect negative to ground because not all batteries are maintenance-free. The original car batteries need maintenance due to their electrolytic nature. They have lids at the top that open from the topside of the short edges of the battery. It is common to add distilled water via these openings. These are the batteries we are concerned with since they have the tendency to release gas. If you connect negative to negative terminal (-) of battery and it sparks this gas, your battery will explode.

Notice how explosions are impossible with maintenance-free batteries due to the nature of the battery being tightly sealed. As a result, if you have a maintenance-free battery, you may place the negative lead on the negative terminal (-). I recommend the habit of putting negative to ground in case you accidentally forget to consider the battery type.

2.2. Can a car battery be too dead to jump start?

Learning howto jump a car? Can a battery be too dead to jump? Yes. If your car is freshly dead, it may take a minute or two of waiting before a second battery can bring it to a sufficient level to jump.

The terminals of the battery may be corrosive or the battery itself may be old and beyond repair if this process does not work.

There is also the possibility the problem is the alternator, a blown starter, etcetera.

2.3. How to jump start a dead battery without another car?

To jump start a dead battery without another car you need to have a jump starter booster pack. There simply is no way to jump start a dead battery without one. No amount of pushing will help start a car on newer vehicles that you typically find on the streets today.

For more information on booster packs, go to the booster packs section found below.

2.4. Can you jumpstart a car with just a battery?

Technically, yes. There is no problem jumpstarting a car with just a battery. The only problem is there are occasional instances where it is not enough.

The act of trying to turn on your car places high demands on the jump-starting battery host. In most cases, jump starting another person’s car demands pressing on the gas. Thus, allowing the alternator to increase the amount of current (thus boosting voltage and whatnot) of the battery component. It is this act that allows people to get jump started fast.

Of course, this does not mean you cannot use just a battery. It simply means it is impractical. It would take longer, as you would need to keep both batteries hooked up properly for a duration of time.

2.5. Does jump starting a car drain your battery?

Does jumping a car drain your battery? It depends on what you are referring to. It will only take a little bit of your battery’s juice if you are jumping a friend’s car.

The act of jump starting a vehicle does not directly cause your battery to fall into a spiral of “I’m draining, help.” Batteries can oversee the vehicle’s load. It is no different whether the load the battery is managing is your vehicle or someone else’s. It does not matter. If all is well, However, as previously stated, it may cause your alternator to fail after a long time of doing this due to voltage spikes that may cause diodes to fail. Thus, draining your battery.

It is increasingly accurate to note that jump starting a car does not directly drain your battery. Rather, it promotes the likelihood that one day the battery draining may come.

Electricity and electronic components are tricky. That is why I ensure to bring the best information forward for you.

2.6. Can jump starting a car damage your car?

The short answer is it is possible but not in the way that you think. Voltage spikes may theoretically damage the diodes on the alternator. These diodes are there to protect your alternator from reverse current. Your alternator may start draining its own battery if these diodes break in the process.

As you can see, it is important to try to avoid jump starting as much as possible. There is always the possibility something may fail. You would not want it to happen to you. Though in the rare cases you do have to jump start either yourself (using a battery power pack) or someone else’s vehicle, I would not worry too much. Especially when it does not happen too often. But it is important to be aware.

When consumers run into battery draining issues after jump starting, it is important to note this has nothing to do with

2.7. Does Jump Starting a Car Damage My Battery?

Not always. It is an entirely safe procedure if you jump start a car correctly. The process of jump starting your car only damages the battery when done incorrectly. You will minimize damage and retain a perfectly healthy battery if you follow the steps provided throughout this guide. There are instances where jump starting may damage your battery, however.

Avoid jump starting if your automotive battery is leaking battery acid. Jump starting would put your battery in danger of sparks. Do not attempt to jump your vehicle if your car battery appears out of the ordinary. Use all of your senses when figuring out whether or not jumping is right for you. When you have doubts do not try this at home. Call your local trusted mechanic if you the answer is not obvious to you.

2.8. Can jump starting a car damage your computer?

The car’s computer is a sophisticated set of control systems bundled up in what we know as a module. For simplicity, there is an engine control module (ECM) and a powertrain control module (PCM). There also exist fuse boxes with fuses installed inside of them. These fuses are what protect your car’s computer from damage.

The problem with saying, “your computer will be fine,” is it is not true in all cases. Your computer is forever going to be vulnerable to jump starting damage. The only components protecting your vehicle’s precious computers are the fuses. There is no guarantee every vehicle is going to take a jump start well.

I know cars that, for example, had fried cluster displays after a jump start. There is no noticeable way for the consumer to know if the computer is damaged.

I would take extra safety precautions if your vehicle were older. It is best to get a jumper pack with built-in circuitry than to get jumper cables to do the same job. Jumper cables lack the sophistication to prevent current and voltage spikes.

2.9. Will I damage my car if I give someone a jump start?

Twelve-volt batteries simply lack the power to cause considerable damage to electronic components – not to mention one can usually find integrated anti-surge protection when charging. Of course, this does not disqualify your vehicle from other potential damages caused by user intervention.

Expensive car battery damage happens when you do not connect the ends of a jumper cable properly to both your car and the recipient’s car. Unless you are touching one of the leads to something else and as a result shorting one or more components of the vehicle’s delicate systems, there should not be electronic damage. Make sure to check your car battery’s voltage to see where it is at.

How you proceed to crank the car with the dead battery makes a difference. The safest way is to charge the dead battery using the good battery, and after the dead battery has sufficient charge to start, disconnect the cables and then crank the car with the bad battery.

The less safe way is to crank the car with the bad battery while the car with the good battery is running and both batteries continue to be wired to each other. This method creates a heavier load on the battery, requiring higher currents. Just the act of removing this load from the good battery can create a load dump – a moment where current falls drastically and voltage spikes momentarily due to the inductance of the field winding inside the alternator. This may or may not cause electrical problems.

When learning howto jump a car it is better for you to implement the safer method. However, make such a decisive action at your own risk.

2.10. What happens if you jump start a frozen battery?

Asking this question is like asking if it is OK to slide town a water slide that is dry to the bone.

Automotive batteries are composed of sulfuric acid and water. It is this combination that allows sulfuric acid to break down into its electrolytic components.

While an electrolyte, electrons and holes flow freely from one point to the other.

When a battery is frozen, this does not happen because the system is not liquid. Meaning, it is tough for chemical components to flow freely.

So, overall, if you happen to try to jump start a frozen battery, results may vary. I do not recommend this procedure at all. It is rare for a frozen battery to jump start, as the sulfuric acid and water mixture help deter freezing from happening. As a result, the freezing point declines. However, it can happen as I recognize there are cold places in the world.

My honest recommendation is to first identify if you are safe. If you are safe at home or something like that, attempt to allow the battery to thaw over. If you are stuck on the road, call for help. What else could you do?

It is important to note that due to the sulfuric acid and water combination, freezing should happen. Automotive battery freezing happens when you do not charge the battery fully. A discharged battery may fall into the freezing issue. Regardless, the battery needs replacing. Do follow up with the problem with a technician as they may check it out further for you.

2.11. Can you jump start a bad alternator?

Well, err, yes. The act of jump starting a car is more geared to the purpose of getting the engine to turn on. Once the car is jump started, the alternator starts generating voltage (and current) to charge the battery. If the alternator’s battery is bad, there will be no charging for the battery. As a result, the car will only stay on as long as the battery is above optimal voltage specifications.

It is safe jump starting a car with a bad alternator. In a way, consumers realize they have bad alternators by doing this. So, do not be afraid of jump starting a car with a bad alternator. However, to ask “can you jump start a bad alternator” is completely wrong. You cannot jump start an alternator. The act of jump starting is more geared towards the battery.

Think of a jug of water with its upper lid removed. Jump starting is like grabbing a cup of water and adding it into the jug (cables on). You will start seeing a flow of water. A bad alternator is synonymous to a closed faucet. There is no flow of electrons coming to the unit.

3.1. Jumper cable basics

3.2. Can jumper cables damage your car?

Definitely. Sparking, melting, and heating up are common symptoms of bad jumper cables. You should get your jumper cables inspected if you notice any of these symptoms early on. Replace the jumper cables if necessary.

Most consumers are surprised to hear that jumper cables may cause heavy damage. Jumper cables are not ideal tools. They do not mitigate their risk. Having inferior quality ones makes the risk only greater.

3.3. Can jumper cables damage your battery?

Your automotive battery may blow up in the case the gases emitted by the battery contact the sparks made by your jumper cables. A blown-up battery is the greatest risk of damage to your battery. Pay attention to not making contact between the negative battery pole (-) and the negative jumper probe when jumping a vehicle. Rather, attach negative jumper probe to other distant locations shorted to ground. Usual places to connect the negative terminal are the engine, body chassis, etc.

3.4. Why are my jumper cables sparking?

Sparking itself is not a huge concern if you are the one making them. Electrons always try to find the path of least resistance. This is normal.

Try not to spark on purpose when it comes to your automotive battery. There is no risk of a spark igniting and causing a fire if the battery is maintenance-free. However, in the case your battery is not the maintenance-free or sealed gel battery type, there is a risk of a spark igniting the acid, ejecting battery acid in your face.

3.5. Why are my jumper cables heating up?

If you notice your jumper cables are hot to the touch this is a strong indication that you need to replace the cables. This is a common symptom. Although there is no serious threat in the short run it proves the jumper cables are not able to transfer current from A to B perfectly. Over time, this may become a problem you do not want to deal with.

3.6. Why are my jumper cables melting?

Your jumper cables are melting because they are of low quality, damaged, or are losing their integrity. As a result, they may not be able to hold up the enormous amounts of current necessary for a proper jump start.

I always recommend high-quality jumper cables for these applications when learning howto jump a car. The low-quality are subpar and usually do more harm than good. High-quality cables help avoid headaches and frustrations when jump starting.

Jumper Cable Booster Packs

What’s better than thick wire on alligator clips? Let us break down what you need to know about booster packs.

4.1. What are they and how do they work?

Anything can go wrong in the world of transportation. Electrical and electronic systems fail all the time. A great concern pertaining the vehicle’s charging system is the battery, the starter, and the alternator each play a key role and therefore cannot work without each other. If the alternator stops working, the system stops charging. If the starter stops working, the engine never starts. You are usually in trouble if the battery fails.

Battery jump starter booster packs are a band-aid for failed batteries. Whether your battery has lost its voltage due to malfunction, wear-and-tear, died, or accidental discharging, jump starter booster packs allow the system to recharge and give the battery its life back.

Portable jump starter booster packs work by giving power directly to the discharged battery. It is the emergency boost your vehicle needs for it to crank and start charging itself. They are small, portable, and nimble due to its lowered capacity.

4.2. Will a booster pack charge a dead battery?

A battery jump starter booster pack will not charge a dead battery. Or rather, not for long.

The jump starter pack gives a quick jolt of energy to get the system going. Its capacity is insufficient to charge a dead battery. Although it is great when you need that extra voltage, it is a horrible idea. You will only end up with two dead batteries instead of one. It is more convenient to simply crank the car while plugged to the battery terminals (+ and -). Any other way would wreak havoc.

4.3. How long can the jump starter hold a charge?

The longevity of the battery jump starter may shock you due to the nature of jump starting. Pocket jump starters may boost up to thirty cars in one charge. Heavy-duty jump starter booster packs may boost beyond thirty cars in one charge. They carry quite the juice for getting you back on the road.

4.4. Is a portable jump starter worth it?

A portable jump starter is completely worth it. Whether you are a professional or a casual; for industry use or for personal use; there are applications for everyone. Having a portable jump starter means you have an answer in the case the battery fails. It is worth it considering how easy it is to accidentally discharge your battery.

I have made friends on the road by offering my portable jump starter when others needed it. Needy people appreciate the good deed from your initial investment. Family and friends alike enjoy knowing they can drive home after a long and hard stress session due to a dead battery.

Is a portable jump starter worth it? It is worth more in value than your AAA bill after making calls repeatedly due to a dead battery. It is worth more than the amount of time you have spent stuck on the side of the road. The portable jump starter deserves more respect.

You owe it to yourself to own the best when learning howto jump a car. Buy it once and stop thinking about it. Peace of mind and security are one of the best investments to make. There is nothing worse than being stuck on the road and thinking to yourself, “why didn’t I buy the jump starter battery pack?”

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